Built 1934 • Undergoing Restoration
Of all the streetcars in Muni's historic fleet, none turn heads faster than its two "boat trams" from Blackpool, England. They bring smiles to so many when they sail by -- nautical air whistle gaily tooting.
Muni's boat trams are two of twelve built for the English seaside resort city of Blackpool in 1934. For many years, they ran along along the coastal promenade to Fleetwood, sharing the tracks with a wide variety of unusual English-built equipment. In the fall, Blackpool trams are specially decorated for the "illuminations," with elaborate lighting making the cars sparkle as the sun sets over the Irish Sea.
The first boat tram to operate in San Francisco, No. 226, was leased from a museum for the first two years of the Trolley Festivals, 1983-84. The second, No. 228, was acquired for Muni with the help of Market Street Railway members.
This tram was part of Blackpool Transport's fleet until 2010, when it was declared surplus and was preserved by the non-profit Lancastrian Transport Trust (LTT). When LTT needed funding for restoration of a vintage double-deck Blackpool tram, Market Street Railway purchased it to donate to Muni. Funding for the purchase came from a generous grant from the Thoresen Foundation. FedEx Trade Networks underwrote the shipping of the tram from England to San Francisco.
In all, eight of the original 12 Blackpool "boats" survive today. Blackpool Transport still operates three. One is in the National Tramway Museum in Crich, England. Two are in American museums, and of course, two now ply the streets of San Francisco, delighting all who see them.